Why do guinea pigs need vitamin C?

Dr Kendra of the Cuyahoga Falls veterinary practice tells us that “one of the most important needs of guinea pigs is that they require a dietary source of vitamin C”. The reason? Guinea pigs lack an enzyme involved in the synthesis of vitamins C from glucose. They can’t make the vitimain themselves through their normal metabolism, which occurs in many other species. Guinea pig pellets manufactured commercially normally contain added vitamins C. She states, that however, about half of this vitamin C may be oxidised “and lasts 90 days after the diet has been mixed and stored at room temperature”.

Guinea pigs
Guinea pigs. Photo: Pixabay.

Certain foods are high in vitamins C and these are: oranges, kiwi fruit, tomatoes, broccoli and red and green peppers. Vitamin C can be added to water. It should be noted that vitamins C loses about 50% of its vitamins C content over a 24-hour period.

The dietary demands of guinea pigs consist of guinea pig pellets and grass hay supplemented with fresh vegetables. Treats such as fruits, dry cereals and rolled oats should only be offered in small quantities.

Interesting fact: guinea pigs are coprophagic, a word that I had never heard before. It means that they ingest faeces many times every day. A baby guinea pig might eat their mother’s droppings. It’s an important part of their lives. To prevent it happening might cause a guinea pig to lose weight and digest less fibre while also excreting more minerals in their faeces.

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